Exotica Magazine June 2021

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Editor-in-Chief CHANDAN MITRA EDITORIAL BOARD Chief Executive Officer Shobori Ganguli Chief Operating Officer Abhishek Saxena 09818600128 EDITORIAL Consultant Editor Saimi Sattar Senior Feature Writer Christy Varghese Feature Correspondent Ayushi Sharma Chief Designer Anand Singh Rawat Production Manager Syed Nawab Raza Staff Photographer Pankaj Kumar SALES & MARKETING Vice President Jetender Rawat 9810404096 General Managers Kumar Gurudutta Jha & Sweety Verma Senior Managers Madhukar Saxena & Divyesh Kothari Managers Bharat Singh Sajwan, Prabhakar Pathak & Barun Choudhary MUMBAI OFFICE General Manager Devendra Adhikari KOLKATA OFFICE Vice President Suzanna Roy HYDERABAD OFFICE V Sunil Kumar General Manager (Circulation) Rajeev Gautam Printed and published by Chandan Mitra for and on behalf of CMYK Printech Ltd, printed at JK Offset Graphics (P) Ltd, B-278, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-1, New Delhi-110020 and published at No. 6, Behind Gulab Bhawan, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi-110002. Editor: Chandan Mitra. Entire Contents Copyright (C) 2006 CMYK Printech Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation in any language in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Requests for permission should be directed to CMYK Printech Ltd. Opinions carried in Exotica are the writers’ and not necessarily endorsed by CMYK Printech Ltd. The publisher assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited material or for material lost or damaged in transit. All correspondence should be addressed to CMYK Printech Ltd; F-31, Sector-6, NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh-201301 Phone: 0120-4879800 & 4879900 Email: letters2exotica@gmail.com



we ever been as glad about the end of a month as we are about May, this time around? For both — these 31 days and the month that followed before — stuck at hope, happiness besides taking away many of our loved ones. However, the past few days hold out a faint glimmer of hope as there has been a gradual let up in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 positive. But with reports of a third wave and fungus — that has started looking like the shade card of a paint company, as per a popular meme — it seems that the hope of going back to the world, which we knew before March last year, seems increasingly futile. However, it is in times like these that some exemplary lives reinforce our belief in humankind’s innate strength, its ability to adapt and rise after being knocked down senseless. Our celebrity interview, for the month, shows that there is virtue in having patience. Pratik Gandhi worked odd jobs and juggled these with theatre in the evenings. It took him 16 years to strike it big with Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story. But with just one performance, he was trending at the top of the heap. And it is this same fortitude that makes us live in the hope that the borders between nations (and people) will come down and we will live in a world where barriers have fallen so that we can travel again. The way to discover any city is to explore it in its entirety, delve into its culture, savour its cuisine, explore its outdoors and get an insight into its history. And San Francisco, certainly, is an ode to the American way of life and travel. However, till the time borders dissolve into nothingness, we can explore our surroundings by campervans while keeping safe. Though, these have been around for some time now but, given the times where we want to stay in our own bubble, this can be an ideal means to travel. Covid has also brought about a transformation in not just the way we travel, but also in the manner in which we work, the products that we use and the food that we eat. So, a peek at the changes is called for. People looking to up their immunity has certainly been a trend that has been raging against the background of the pandemic. We talk about one of the easiest and simplest ways to imbibe wellness — through teas. Moreover, since homes were a space where we spent our leisure, WFH means that we need to restructure these keeping in mind the changed realities. There are some simple tricks and tips to ensure that your attention does not waver nor your comfort gets compromised while working in this familiar yet new space. The havoc that has been brought about in the world, at large, has made us rethink and look at the available resources and use them in a more holistic manner that does not harm the environment. The beauty brands are cued into this change and have made the switch easier by making available hair and skin care products that are pure and natural while, at the same time, effective. Like every time, there is a little bit of everything for you, dear readers, to deep dive and read. Hope you reciprocate the love we gave while putting the issue together. Te melioribus!






JUNE 2021 VOLUME 15 NO 8

Good health [p38] Raise a toast to tea Inner spaces [p44] A WFH nook Trend meter [p50] Be natural COVER: PALACE OF FINE ARTS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA PHOTO COURTESY: SAN FRANCISCO TRAVEL ASSOCIATION

Little black book [p7] Arjan Bajwa: A quick peek into his style file Celeb talk [p16] Rising stock: Pratik Gandhi Travel Bug [p24] Dive into San Francisco Novel paths [p30] Hit the road TOTAL NUMBER OF PAGES 64 INCLUDING COVER

CONTRIBUTORS Sanjay Jumaani [p56] NUMBER GAME: Count your fate Bharat Thakur [p57] FITNESS: Exercise at work Sri Sri Ravi Shankar [p60] GURUSPEAK: From depression to happiness Follow us on:



[p44] instagram.com/dailypioneer

OUR PARTNER HOTELS Send us your feedback at letters2exotica@gmail.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/Exotica-394686670715776


I am very fond of watches and I have a collection of a few good ones. A watch replaces jewellery for males and it is also a time-keeper.

I don’t have a favourite film but quite a few, especially the ones by Quentin Tarantino whether it is Inglourious Basterds or Django Unchained or Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood.

I am a fragrance freak. Perfumes are a big fetish. Two go-to perfumes are Creed Aventus and Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior.

Actor ARJAN BAJWA made his debut in Telugu films and followed it up with Bollywood ones. He received the Stardust Award for Breakthrough Performance for the film, Fashion (2008)

Being a complete foodie I love everything. I am fond of Italian and I love pasta with red wine. I consider it to be the most amazing combination. I am not much of a book reader. I like to read but need to see some kind of visuals too.

My favourite travel locations are Dubai, London and San Francisco. All three are so diverse and have a fantastic quality about them. It helps that I have relatives and friends in all three.



Spa at Atlantis, The Palm has updated its menu, introducing new treatments in collaboration with Aromatherapy Associates, including four full-body experiences, bespoke facials as well as unique treatments for expecting mothers. Guests can choose from five combinations to create a customisable treatment experience, or reveal a flawless spring look with a Kerastase scalp treatment. ARABIAN HAVEN: This 120-minute full-body treatment is for those who want to experience Arabia, as the warm damask rose is combined with pure essential oils of geranium and palmarosa. Enjoy a nourishing wrap followed by a full-body exfoliation — with triple Maroc, damask and pure white rose — along with masks and

massages for the body and face, finishing with deep conditioning of the hair, skin and scalp. AED 1,195 (`23,748 approx) SLUMBER POD: For those in need of a good night’s sleep, this 120-minute full-body treatment is the perfect solution. It uses the aromas of earthy vetiver, soothing chamomile and comforting sandalwood. Warming muscle gel, along with a deep relaxing oil, compliment a full-body massage, a pressure point scalp massage and facial, finished with an overnight rose repair mask to create a perfect state of peaceful slumber. AED 1,095 (`21,761 approx) FOREST THERAPY: Following the Japanese practice of SHINRIN-YOKU this 120-minute fullbody treatment uses evergreen oils and scents of pink pepper fruit, juniper berry and Mediterranean


cypress to reduce stress, lower heart rate, boost immunity and accelerate recovery. Guests will experience a warm foot cleansing, a grounding box breathing body massage and cleansing mud treatment along with a pressure point facial and clarity head massage. AED 1,095 (`21,761 approx) VIRTUAL VITALITY: Recharge, energise, and reawaken with this 120-minute cleansing and detoxing full-body treatment. Bursts of citrus awaken the senses with a cleanse and scrub of the hands and feet to invigorate the soul. A combination of green coffee, sea salt and berry body exfoliation is integrated with a deep cleansing mud and a mask with power-packed oil for a reenergising boost. AED 1,095 (` 21,761 approx) AROMATHERAPY ASSOCIATES BESPOKE FACIAL: Begin this 60-minute facial with an indepth, personalised skin consultation to address

specific skin concerns from hydration to deepcleansing needs. A combination of pure essential oils and plant extracts is applied with a tailored massage to restore and recondition the skin, leaving a smooth and luminous complexion. AED 695 (`13,812 approx) MOTHER-TO-BE MASSAGE: This 60-minute massage is designed to relieve stress and tension, ease the heavy feeling that can come with pregnancy and alleviate backache. Keeping expectant mums in mind, aromatherapy massage oils that are safe and suitable for pregnancy have been specially selected for this treatment. AED 625 (`12,421 approx) The new ShuiQi Spa menu also includes innovative restoration facials and massages in collaboration with Dr Burgener, a comfort zone facial detox designed specifically for teens and a selection of treatments tailored for the modern man.


LESSER-KNOWN MUMBAI FORTS BASSEIN FORT: Built by the Portuguese in 1536 and spread over 110 acres, the Bassein Fort aka Vasai Fort is one of the best specimens of Indo-European defensive architecture. This giant fort had three convents, six churches, one cathedral in addition to numerous public and private buildings including the original St Sebastian Fort, Misericordia, senate house, town hall, factory, hospital, college, library, coin mint and a marketplace. This commercial, political and military base of the Portuguese for nearly 300 years was home to 2,400 soldiers, 300 residents, nobles and artisans. In 1739, the Marathas, under the leadership of Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I, took control of the fort and set up a temple and a statue. In 1802, the British took away the territory from the Marathas after the Treaty of Bassein. Interestingly, the court door of the Bassein Fort is preserved carefully at the Remedy Church in Vasai. Though large parts of this historic fortcity have fallen to ruin, several watch-towers — with safe staircases leading up — still stand. The fort is a popular shooting location for Bollywood films and songs. It is a Nationally Protected Monument under Archaeological Survey of India.

SION FORT: Built by the British under the East India Company between 1669 and 1677, the Sion Fort marked the boundary between the Parel Island held by them and the Portuguesecontrolled Salsette Island, north across the creek. Built on a hillock, it offers a panoramic view of the eastern coast. The Sion Fort has a series of beautiful pathways, a couple of ruined rooms and an old cannon at the top. At the base is a garden named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. From one side of the fort, one can enjoy the view of the distant salt pans in Thane Creek. Restoration of the Sion Fort, which was notified as a Grade I Heritage Structure, had begun in 2009.

BELAPUR FORT: It was built by the Siddis of Janjira in 1560-1570 after they wrested control of the area from the Portuguese. Located atop a hillock near the mouth of the Panvel Creek, it was recaptured by the Portuguese in 1682, after they annexed the nearby regions. In 1737, it came under the control of the Marathas, led by Chimaji Appa. Post the Marathas' victory, it was renamed Belapur Fort. In June 1817, the British East India Company army captured and partially destroyed it under the policy of razing any Maratha stronghold in the region. A tunnel is also said to exist in the fort, which several locals believe connects the fort to Gharapuri Island, where Elephanta Caves are located.


was once a group of several islands collectively called Bombay. From the Marathas to the Mughals, the British and even the Portuguese reigned over it at different points in time. Few know that Bombay was fortified to withstand enemy attacks and several citadels were built for this purpose. Though quite a few of them have been ravaged by time, their marks remain, having withstood the tests of weather over the decades. Here are some amazing facts about the forts that mark the city's glorious past… ARNALA FORT: Strategically located at the mouth of the Vaitarna river, the Arnala Fort was built in 1516 by a local chieftain of Gujarat, Sultan Mahmud Begda. It is the specimen of the Maratha and regional defence architecture. In the 1530s, the Portuguese established their operations in the coastal area, with their headquarters at the Bassein Fort and soon gained control of the island. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Maratha Confederacy came to dominate the region. After capturing the Bassein Fort, Chimaji Appa set his sights on Fort Arnala. A plaque, installed by the Marathas on the northern wall of the fort — to commemorate their victory — in March 1737, is still visible. This fort is rectangular and has many temples such as Tryambakeshwar, Bhavani Mata, Kalika Mata and Mahadev. The doorway of the fort is beautifully decorated with pictures of elephants and tigers. It is a Nationally Protected Monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

GHODBUNDER FORT: Located in the Ghodbunder village, on the hilltop by the Ulhas River at Mira Road, this fort was initially named Cache de Tanna by the Portuguese. It was built in 1550 in the European architectural form from stone blocks. Of the two churches, one is in a good condition even today. The place also came to be called Ghodbunder as the Portuguese used to trade horses here with the Arabs. This fort came under the Maratha Empire only

after Chimaji Appa defeated the Portuguese forces. In 1818, the British East India Company took over the fort from the Marathas and made it its local administrative office. It has a great rampart with many bastions alongside its walls and also watchtowers on the top. Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Ratnagiri and Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Mumbai have decided to start restoration work of the fort.

RIWA FORT: Locally known as the Kala Qilla or Black Fort, it is located in Dharavi on the banks of the Mithi River. The most significant part of this Indo-British architecture is that its main ramparts are built with black laterite stones. Part of the larger Bombay Castle, this fort also marked the northern portion of the British-held Bombay in the 17th century. The then Governor John Horne commissioned the construction of the Riwa fort, in the shape of a boomerang, to protect Bombay from the aggressive sea-faring Maratha leader Kanhoji Angre. Interestingly, the Riwa Fort also has an underground tunnel for an unobstructed flow of the Mithi River. It is a State Protected Fort under the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums (Government of Maharashtra).

SEWRI FORT: Built on the island of Parel in 1680, The Sewri Fort was one of the fortifications constructed by the British to ward off enemy attacks on their territory. In 1689, the Siddi General Yadi Sakat invaded Bombay with an army of 20,000 men and first captured the Sewri Fort. In 1772, it also witnessed another battle that repelled a Portuguese attack. It was later used to house prisoners. Currently owned by the State's Department of Archaeology and Museums, Maharashtra

Government and classified as a Grade I heritage structure, efforts are underway under Phase I of Mumbai Fort Circuit Project to restore it. Its strategic location promotes ornithology as the area overlooks the mudflats frequented by migratory birds, particularly the lesser flamingos. Mumbai has a diverse culture and a long and rich history. Though some of the forts in the city are in dilapidated condition, these are considered to be magnificent works of architecture and narrate the glorious past of Mumbai.



Island, Abu Dhabi’s leisure and entertainment hub, has unveiled a new product offering for travel trade at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. Until 30 September, children below the age of 12 can stay and play for free — one child for every one paying adult. This includes complimentary admission to the island’s world-class theme parks, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, and Warner Bros World™ Abu Dhabi, as well as opportunities to stay and eat for free at the island’s hotels. Yas Island’s Parks Hopper & Kids Go Free Promotion allows kids to access all three of Yas Island’s theme parks free. Book a package at any Yas Island Hotel with prices starting from AED 427.50 (`8,472 approx) per adult for a one-night stay with access to all three Yas Island theme parks over two consecutive days. A two-night stay starts at AED 560.00 (`11,098 approx) per adult, and a three-night stay starts at AED 692.50 (`13,724 approx) per adult, with access to all three parks over three and four consecutive days respectively. Bigger families can also book a family unit. Not only do kids get to go free to Yas Island’s

theme parks, but they can also stay for free if sharing a room with their parents, and can eat for free if they are booked on their parents’ meal plan. Additionally, Yas Island hotels offer up to 20 per cent discount on food and beverage, and up to 15 per cent discount on spa services. Parents wanting to bring additional children will be able to add a supplementary child to their ticket for AED 310 (`6,143 approx) for two days three parks Hopper Offer, for AED 325 (`6,440 approx)for three Days 3 Parks Hopper Offer, and AED 340 (`6,737 approx) for four days three parks Hopper Offer, with access to all three parks included in the offer. The ‘Kids Go Free’ summer packages give families access to more than 100 thrilling rides and attractions at the three one-of-kind theme parks nestled on the Island. In addition to three globally-renowned theme parks including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island is also home to Guinness World Record-breaking adventure hub CLYMB™ Abu Dhabi.



Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) teamed up with Yoshinori Tashiro, a famous Japanese Sumo wrestler for the #GoodnessofJapan campaign. This resonates with the brand value of safety, cleanliness, and sanitisation; all of which are extremely important in the current scenario. Through this association, JNTO is trying to communicate all the values that the destination inculcates through this campaign. JNTO wanted its audience to see Japan in its true state and not only through professional images. Hence, an itinerary was tailor-made especially for Tashiro who visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Okinawa. The campaign showcases not just the fascinating destinations, culture and cuisine that Japan offers, but also the best practices and safety standards that are being maintained for travel enthusiasts to come and experience the goodness of Japan. The #GoodnessofJapan is a unique and first-ofits-kind campaign where the focus is not on the tourist spots but on the principles on which Japan stands. It is a glimpse of his journey to some of the popular food joints and attractions like TOKYO SKYTREE®, Ryosoku-in Temple, A Taste Of India — Ganesha Restaurant, Kyoto, Tower of the Sun

Museum, Osaka Castle, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Kouri Ohashi Bridge. Though Japan is known for its flavoursome delicacies, one can also visit the famous Indian restaurants in Japan. The campaign emphasises on a variety of vegetarian options which are easily available at close to 2,100+ Indian restaurants spread across Japan. The country is known for being one of the most hygienic destinations. Long before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, the Japanese were comfortable with covering their faces — both for medical reasons and to conform with the norms of society. The kids are taught at an early age how to maintain certain cleanliness standards and ensure a clean environment. Cleanliness lies at the heart of Shinto, the indigenous faith of the Japanese people and as old as the country itself. It is the major religion alongside Buddhism. In Shinto, cleanliness is godliness. Through this latest association with Tashiro, who played the lead in a Tamil film, JNTO wants to inspire Indian travellers to visit the destination once travel resumes. During his stay in India, he became aware of the Indian traditions and culture that he finds a bit similar to Japan. These findings were, thus, incorporated in this campaign for the messaging to resonate with the Indians.

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safe tourism measures, Turkey offers several holiday options specifically for families with children. Allinclusive hotels that offer animation, children’s workshops, pools and water slides are abundant in Kusadasi, Marmaris, Fethiye and especially Antalya. These hotels offer many activities for families and children, such as workshops and sports activities organised by instructors, and provide the opportunity for all family members to enjoy many different activities at the same time, prioritising visitor satisfaction and paying great attention to family feedback. The facilities are regularly inspected, and the hotels invest the necessary precautions to maximise the safety of the children. For families who want to spend their time in a more natural and freer environment, many boutique hotels offer eco-friendly holidays and have taken the necessary safety measures. Beach hotels at Karaburun, Bodrum, Fethiye, Datça, Selimiye, Bozburun and Kekova welcome their visitors with olive groves and the calm waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. Some of these hotels offer children the opportunity to feed farm animals, such as chicken, ducks and geese, and harvest fresh fruit and vegetables from organic gardens. Turkey also offers guests numerous hotels where families can go hiking, canoeing or enjoy nature together. As part of continuing effort to fight against COVID-19 and further enhance its position as one of the world’s safest destinations, Turkey is continuing to invest in ‘Safe Tourism Certification Programme’ which is one of the first and most successful examples in the world in this field. The country has expanded the scope of the practise and made it compulsory for accommodation facilities with 30 or more rooms. More than 9,000 facilities have been certified. In addition to this certificate, Turkey has begun the vaccination of the tourism personnel. The drive will be completed before the beginning of the summer season. Turkey, located in the Mediterranean and connecting Asia and Europe that are separated by the famous Bosphorus, is taking all actions to make sure it remains a healthy and safe tourism destination and one of the top choices as a safe travel option for international travellers.

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stock RISING

For 16 years actor, PRATIK GANDHI, honed his skills in the wings before he struck it big, says SAIMI SATTAR


in October last year, 90 per cent of the Instagram stories on my feed (and I believe on that of others as well) opened to music with three elements — bass, drums and strings — on a loop. While the theme music of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story was making waves on social media, the show too was hitting the big time. When the web series, based on the 1992 Indian stock market scam, dropped on Sony LIV last year, the actor was practically unknown outside the Gujarati theatre and film circuit. But his swagger as the stockbroker ensured that in less than a fortnight, the show — at 9.6 — was bullish in grabbing the

number 1 spot on IMDb’s “Top Rated TV Shows” list of all time zooming past iconic series such as Planet Earth II (9.5) Breaking Bad (9.5), Chernobyl (9.4), Game of Thrones (9.2). “I think all the departments performed very well. It does not happen every time that everything is right on cue. From scripting to action to art. There was not a single thing that did not add value to the storyline. But the biggest thing that worked was the way Hansal (Mehta, the director) visualised the series. It could have been a piece of information. But he decided to play with emotions and make the show more human. That worked very well,” the voice floats over the phone line which is a little patchy, given that it

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‘RECOGNITION FROM THE AUDIENCE IS VERY PRECIOUS TO ME. AWARDS ARE ENCOURAGING BECAUSE THESE GIVE A SENSE OF SATISFACTION BUT ANYTHING THAT COMES DIRECTLY FROM THE AUDIENCE IS VERY VERY PRECIOUS’ is a twice-connected conference call. But there is no mistaking the speaker at the other end. He sounds unassuming. There is no attempt to corner credit but then he does not have to. The resounding applause and recognition for his portrayal are enough. Soon after the show started streaming, a classmate of Harshad Mehta called up from Hong Kong and told Gandhi that he had been apprehensive about watching it as he had seen the stockbroker from close quarters. But within just five-six minutes into the show, he forgot all about the real guy. For him, Gandhi was Harshad Mehta. “This kind of recognition from the audience is very precious to me. Awards are encouraging because

these give a sense of satisfaction but anything that comes directly from the audience is very very precious,” says Gandhi — who won the Best Actor at the Indian Television Academy Awards, India 2021 —recalling the phone call. But not just his portrayal, Gandhi’s life echoes many aspects of the character that made him famous. Like Harshad, he was the underdog outsider from the Gujarati who struggled, lived in a one-BHK with his wife and juggled jobs before he made it big. The other similarity, of course, is his approach to life. “In life, I am bullish. Very bullish,” he says. Gandhi was born to a family of teachers in Surat. Though he loved theatre from an early age

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and made his first screen appearance in eighth-standard when a stage play that he did was televised by DD National, acting was seen as a hobby by his family. So Gandhi trod the beaten path and completed a diploma in mechanical engineering. He held a regular job and juggled it with theatre in the evenings but it was not enough to pursue it full-time. In July 2004, he made his way to Mumbai. It took him 16 years to become a face that would stand out in the crowd... nationally. When one starts reeling off names of actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi and more who honed their skills while waiting in the wings, Gandhi says that he has been talking about it. “If this kind of an opportunity had come to me before, I don’t know how I’d have performed. But all these years have given me so much to add to my craft. As an actor and, as, a person. And whatever I have done has given me so much insight. Whatever I have done, apart from acting, has added so much to me as a person and opened my mind to approach a character with a 360-degree view. Whether it was my corporate career, or that of an anchor, or in the telecom department. Everything added up. So, this was the right time for this to come. Not earlier, not later,” he says with the finality of one who believes in his destiny. And his ability to mould it to his liking. Something that he had said in the past makes its presence felt on the sidelines, “The job involving erecting mobile towers and sites made me an actor who can think about, you know, different emotions in a different way," he had stated in an earlier interview. However, when Gandhi was signed up for the show, he had very little idea about the stock market world or even Harshad Mehta. “I was in school when the scam broke and just knew that some issue at the stock market resulted in people losing money. So, for me, Harshad Mehta was always a villain. Someone who duped the country,” he says. What really clinched the deal was the director, Hansal Mehta. “I’ve watched his films and always wanted to work with somebody like him. The other parts were the script and the character. The moment that he told me that ‘Harshad’s character is the role we want to cast you in’, I started learning and searching about him. This was my big-ticket project. I had nothing to lose,” he says matter-of-factly. However, the way the show went viral belied all his expectations. “I’d no idea that it would become so big nationally and internationally. But I was very sure of one thing, which I saw while shooting, that it was working very

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‘I’D NO IDEA THAT SCAM 1992 WOULD BECOME SO BIG NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY. BUT I WAS VERY SURE OF ONE THING, WHICH I SAW WHILE SHOOTING, THAT IT WAS WORKING VERY WELL AS FAR AS THE EMOTIONS WERE CONCERNED. I WAS IN THE MOST COMFORTABLE POSITION WHILE PERFORMING EVERY BIT. SO I WAS VERY SURE, IN MY MIND, THAT IT WAS WORKING AND I WOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE PRIDE THAT I WAS A PART OF THE PROJECT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE’ well as far as the emotions were concerned. I was in the most comfortable position while performing every bit. So I was very sure, in my mind, that it was working and I would be able to take pride that I was a part of the project for the rest of my life. Before this I’d never seen this kind of appreciation,” says the 41-year-old. Of course, the switch from Gujarati to Hindi

multiplied his audience. “Regional industry has limited reach. The moment you do a Hindi film you have a larger audience nationally. That is what happened with Scam 1992. Someone from Gujarat called recently who said that he was delighted that one of us had a national-level performance. But it is not as if hum kahan se kahan aa gae (I’ve made a drastic switch). Those who have seen me, know I’ve been working. But those who saw me for the first time were very surprised as they felt I was coming from nowhere.” The change registered closer home when his seven-year-old daughter, Miraya, asked him why everyone was congratulating him and saying that they were proud of him now as he had been acting for some time now. “I said that is because they just saw my film and they had not seen me before. That is the difference (in acting in Hindi). It’s very practical. There’s no cribbing or anything,” he says and one can almost visualise him shrugging. However, the long stint in Gujarati theatre and cinema did help to prepare him for his time in the limelight. “Even something as small as giving an interview is an art because not everyone is comfortable doing that. You have to articulate without a script and put forth thoughts clearly. It does not come to you unless you have practiced it. Also, how I present my thoughts for the promotion of the film. All these years, I have been given that opportunity in Gujarati,” he says and adds, “Apart from that I’ve faced the camera multiple times which has made me comfortable so that I can be myself and also the character without getting conscious that people are watching me.” After Scam 1992, Gandhi was seen in the Gujarati web series, Vitthal Teedi, which started streaming on OHO Gujarati last month. So wasn’t there the pressure to follow it up with another ‘national-level’ show? “I won’t deny that there was pressure as a lot of people kept telling me that the next project has to give my career graph a further boost. I discussed it with my near and dear ones and contemplated if I should do something which is in Gujarati and, that too, a web series. I’ve

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‘I WON’T DENY THAT THERE WAS PRESSURE AS A LOT OF PEOPLE KEPT TELLING ME THAT THE NEXT PROJECT HAS TO GIVE MY CAREER GRAPH A FURTHER BOOST. I DISCUSSED IT WITH MY NEAR AND DEAR ONES AND CONTEMPLATED IF SHOULD D0 SOMETHING WHICH IS IN GUJARATI AND, THAT TOO, A WEB SERIES. I’VE ALWAYS SELECTED PROJECTS ON WHAT I LIKE AND WANT TO BE A PART OF. I CHOSE THIS BECAUSE OF THE CHARACTER OF VITTHAL AND THE WORLD THAT HAD BEEN CREATED AROUND HIM’ always selected projects on what I like and want to be a part of. I chose this because of the character of Vitthal and the world that had been created around him,” says Gandhi sagely. Even a cursory reading of Vitthal Teedi’s plot reveals similarities with Scam 1992. Vitthal is a gambler and so was Harshad, in a manner of speaking. “The similarities were a challenge. Both, the characters and the world around them, are set in the 80s. Both had internal swag and style as well as almost identical one-liners. So, the challenge was to create a character that is distinct and didn’t feel that it has been portrayed by the same actor, or that there is a pinch of Harshad in Vitthal. That is what I tried,” he says. And there is another way that Gandhi is stretching his boundaries... by being a part of You Got Chef'd cooking show on Gobble since, by his own admission, he is more of a helper. “I am a sous chef. I am always that person who is told, ‘ye lekar aao, ye utha kar do, ye kaat kar do (bring this, pick that, chop that)’. Rather than doing the actual cooking,” he says. And it is for this very reason that he finds it the most interesting and engaging

thing that he has done recently. “I was exploring another side of mine,” he adds. For actors like Gandhi, content — which is no longer formulaic — has been powering their rising stock in the industry. “Personally, I was always a fan of stories where the content was important. As an actor, I am partial to a good story. And you can see the theatre which I’ve done as a witness to it. I never subscribed to the idea of a particular kind of hero who has a typical skin colour, looks or the way he talks and walks. I couldn’t subscribe to it even as an audience,” asserts Gandhi. Moreover, he believes that the audience — having consumed so much content — is aware and open (to different kinds). Gandhi, who made his debut on the big screen with Yours Emotionally — a United Kingdom-Indian co-produced film in 2006 — says, “This gives filmmakers the liberty to make different genres. This is going to be around for some time as everyone is looking to experiment... be it makers or audience.” This change, to a large extent, has been powered by the popularity and spread of OTT platforms. Gandhi feels, “OTT has been a

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gamechanger in the way we consumed content or enjoyed stories. Here, there is no pressure to perform within the first three days. Word of mouth can result in good content reaching the right audience. OTT has set that benchmark, time and again. There is a lot of content which is slow-moving and might not hit you immediately but it stays in your mind even after three days.” While earlier the audience was trained to watch something which was very pacy. “When the film started... uske baad ek gaana hi chahiye, chaar fight sequence hone chahiye. Jis formula me hum jeete the wo formula hi toot gaya (There has to be a song and fight sequence. But the formula has broken down). We designed a formula for an industry which was based on experiment,” says the actor. Naturally, with the pandemic not likely to abate any time soon, it calls for some changes in the industry that requires working in close proximity. “Innovation has always happened in times of crisis. so I am hoping and expecting that a lot of innovation can happen in this time,” says Gandhi. A larger change witnessed around us is that medical terms and medicines have become common parlance. As if on a premonition, Gandhi had acted in Ventilator (2018) — a Gujarati film — which is very close to his heart. “I have gone through a similar situation with my dad. After having done the film, I saw it in real life,” he trails off. Gandhi has a packed schedule for a year-and-a-half. He will be seen in a web series by Tigmanshu Dhulia called Six Suspects, Siddharth Roy Kapur’s film Woh Ladki Hai Kahan co-starring Taapsee Pannu. Apart from that, he has a couple of other projects which are under discussion.

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of the nicest things about visiting San Francisco is that, although the city is ‘big’ in terms of attractions and amenities, it is geographically small — only 49 square miles. That makes it very easy to see and do a great many things in a short period of time. Here is a suggested list of the top 28 things not to miss in the city, according to the San Francisco Travel Association: WALK OVER THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: The Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, manages to impress even the most experienced travellers with its stunning 1.7-mile span. Approximately 1,20,000 automobiles drive across it every day. A pedestrian walkway also allows crossing on foot, and bikes are allowed on the western side. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth, so get ready with your camera to shoot. #AlwaysSF. RIDE A CABLE CAR: Cable cars have been transporting people around the city since the late 19th century. The cars run on tracks and are moved by an underground cable along three routes. Their

Some cities cannot be confined within one narrow attraction. This cultural, commercial and financial centre in Northern California holds out 28 charms that one can explore, at leisure, once travel opens up





familiar bells can be heard ringing from blocks away. Tickets ($8 or `580 approx) may be purchased at the cable car turnarounds at the ends of each route. Each one-way ride provides spectacular views of the city’s celebrated hills, as well as an exhilarating ride. Please note: San Francisco’s cable cars are currently out of service. VISIT THE ROCK: Alcatraz, the notorious former prison, is located on an island of the same name in

the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the United States’ most notorious criminals were incarcerated there. Though several tried, no inmate ever made a successful escape from ‘The Rock’. The prison was closed in the 1960s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary. A visit today is fascinating. Recorded cell-house tours are available which allow visitors to learn about the prison as they explore the buildings and grounds. To reach the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 33. SEE THE SEA LIONS: Fisherman’s Wharf is also home to PIER 39, a festive waterfront marketplace, that is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the docks in the PIER 39 Marina and visitors line the nearby railing to watch their antics. From there, it’s a short walk to area attractions such as the San Francisco Dungeon and Madame Tussauds, the Museum of 3D Illusions, the Cartoon Art Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum, the historic Boudin Bakery and multiple food options, including crab vendors selling walkaway crab and shrimp cocktails. HAVE A PICNIC IN A PARK: Dolores Park is the perfect place to enjoy sunny afternoons. With nearly 16 acres of grassy areas, you can play, lounge

and people-watch, all with a gorgeous view of the city. The Presidio is another San Francisco favourite. There are several places within its more than two square miles to lay down a blanket and enjoy a meal. You can also picnic in the iconic Golden Gate Park, where you’ll find scenic spots at the Conservatory of Flowers and outside the California Academy of Sciences. GO TO AN OUTDOOR FESTIVAL: Outdoor festivals have been a popular activity for people of all ages in the city. The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival from May to October has hosting dining, shopping and cultural activities for the whole family. The Stern Grove Festival, a tradition since 1938, is a free outdoor music festival that has welcomed performers like The Doobie Brothers, Talib Kweli and others. Visit Golden Gate Park for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival, which happens every October. Please note: Most major outdoor festivals have been postponed, cancelled, or turned into virtual events in the light of public health requirements. GO ON A WALKING TOUR: The best way to see and experience the place is on foot. Wild SF Walking Tours offers a food crawl, a tour of the Castro & Mission District and a Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour. Go Behind the Scenes at Oracle Park, the home of San Francisco Giants.

You’ll have access to the player’s dugout, luxury suites and more. There are walking tours for foodies, too. Local Tastes of the City Tours lets you learn about the food history and culture in neighbourhoods such as North Beach, Chinatown and others. During the stops along the way, one can taste all the unique foods originating from different cultures. SEE A SHOW: From rock and pop to hip hop and jazz, San Francisco is a hub for every music genre. Venues like The Fillmore, The Warfield Theatre, and The Masonic are some of the city’s most legendary music halls, welcoming musicians from all over the world. Past musical acts at these historic venues include MGMT, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and many more. SFJAZZ Center hosts concerts as well as classes and workshops designed for aspiring musicians. Please note: Indoor performances are not permitted under current public health guidelines. EXPERIENCE ILLUMINATE SF: Want to know what’s glowing in San Francisco? Illuminate SF is an ongoing festival of light art that showcases over 30 installations scattered throughout 17 neighborhoods of San Francisco. Admire light art on buildings, sidewalks, restaurants, cars and more. VISIT THE HISTORIC PRESIDIO: A former

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military base is now a national park and a National Historic Landmark District, widely known for its natural beauty, art and culture and more. If you’re visiting with kids, don’t pass on a visit to The Walt Disney Family Museum, which is full of interactive exhibits and Disney artifacts. EXPLORE HAIGHT-ASHBURY: Known as the centre of San Francisco’s hippie counterculture, the Haight-Ashbury district is a haven for vintage finds and 1960s nostalgia. You can walk in the footsteps of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead on a Flower Power Walking Tour while learning about how music shaped the vibrant history of the Haight. EXPLORE THE MISSION: Founded in 1776, the Mission is the city’s oldest neighborhood, with some of its newest restaurants and art galleries. Popular food joints and Dolores Park are among the most popular attractions. However, many visitors come here to admire the murals that adorn the walls of buildings. SIGHTS ON A BIKE: Although driving around San Francisco is not encouraged, biking surely is. It’s an easy way to get to different attractions that are close to one another. The best part is, you won’t

need to worry about parking. You can also bundle bike tours with attraction passes to make exploring the city even easier. LOCALLY MADE GIFTS: If you’re looking for goodies that are exclusively made in San Francisco, there are many local places to shop from. SFMade proudly works with other manufacturers that produce locally-made products, from clothing to coffee blends. At the Ferry Building Marketplace, you’ll find goodies from local merchants, sourcing from our neighbouring cities like Sausalito and Guerneville. Take home unique finds while supporting San Francisco small businesses. MEET THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY: Since San Francisco is widely known for its diversity, it is no surprise that the Castro is a popular spot to explore. Its vibrant and lively atmosphere makes it a great destination. If you’re here in October, be sure to check out the annual Castro Street Fair. SIP AT A LOCAL BREWERY OR WINERY: You’ll want to be in town for annual events like SF Beer Week. You don’t need to go to the wine country to enjoy a glass of wine as San Francisco has a handful of local wineries, including TANK18, The Press Club and many others.

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HAVE BRUNCH: The city is widely known for its popular brunch spots. Places like Mama’s on Washington Square (1701 Stockton St) have been serving their famous fluffy omelettes and homemade jams for over 50 years. SEE WILDLIFE: Take a nice boat ride around Stow Lake, where you can spot birds of different species and turtles along the way. Attractions like the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens and Aquarium of the Bay are perfect for families with kids who are eager to see and interact with wildlife. MARVEL AT SCENIC BEAUTY: Discover San Francisco’s beauty on the 49-mile scenic drive, which begins at City Hall and guides you to a number of popular historic and iconic landmarks. If you’re up for a hike, the Presidio has several art trails that are worth the stunning views. Urban Hiker SF offers itineraries for group hikes through popular urban destinations like the Castro, Twin Peaks, Coit Tower, and many more. LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY: There are many museums dedicated to the rich history of the city. The Wells Fargo History Museum invites visitors to use vintage bank machines, send telegraphs, and even ride in a replica stagecoach. If you want to learn about the city’s transit history, the San

Francisco Railway Museum and the Cable Car Museum give visitors a chance to see and learn about the first streetcars here. Learn about California’s richly diverse past at the California Historical Society. WATER VIEW: Want a different perspective of San Francisco? Kayak in the bay to get amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline, have a romantic dinner on a Hornblower cruise or take a ferry to visit Alcatraz. VISIT FAMOUS FILM AND TV LOCATIONS: If you’re a movie buff, these locations should feature on your itinerary. The Rock (1996), starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, featured shots of Alcatraz, The Fairmont, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Vertigo (1958), by Alfred Hitchcock, shot scenes at the Presidio and Fort Point, where Madeleine famously jumps into the bay. The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square is also a very familiar location for Full House fans. SHOP AT UNION SQUARE: Major department stores and the most exclusive designer boutiques line the streets of Union Square. The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre houses the largest Bloomingdale’s outside New York and the secondlargest Nordstrom in the U S.

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EXPLORE NORTH BEACH: North Beach, the city’s Italian quarter, isn’t a beach at all. It’s a neighbourhood of romantic European-style sidewalk cafes, restaurants and shops centred near Washington Square along Columbus and Grant avenues. The Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a landmark. Coit Tower, atop Telegraph Hill, offers a vantage point for photos of the bridges and the Bay. Inside the tower, floor-toceiling murals painted in the 1930s depict scenes of early San Francisco. EXPLORE CHINATOWN: The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the ‘Dragon’s Gate’. The 24 blocks of this city within a city are best explored on foot. Exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums are all found within its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a dim sum lunch or witness the making of fortune cookies. DINE AT WORLD-CLASS RESTAURANTS: Known as one of America’s best restaurant cities, San Francisco chefs excel at combining the freshest local ingredients, authentic international flavours and a touch of creative genius. Choose your cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian,

Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, Malaysian, Mexican, Greek, Russian or ‘fusion’, a combination of any or all of these influences and you have options galore. CELEBRATE NIGHTLIFE: Nightlife in the city is a constantly changing scene. From cocktails in Union Square, to the club scene in SoMa, there are neighbourhoods to experience all types of nightlife. For a different spin, several museums host 21 and up events that invite visitors to sip and see special exhibits. GET CULTURED: A visit to any city is incomplete without a cultural experience. The city is home to an internationally-recognised symphony, opera and ballet companies. Many playwrights introduce their works in San Francisco and avant-garde theatre and dance companies dot the city. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honour, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, other institutions and galleries are devoted to the finest of classical and contemporary arts. The city is also home to the California Academy of Sciences, the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a four-story rainforest all under one roof.

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Experiencing a destination in a camper van was a concept restricted to a minuscule minority. But in the post-pandemic world, where social distancing is a norm, it is an idea whose time has finally come, says SAIMI SATTAR




do the Shahrukh Khan starrer Swades and Breaking Bad, the wildly popular web series, have in common? Yes, it is campervans which make more than just a guest appearance in taking the plot forward in both. With the pandemic showing no signs of completely disappearing anytime soon, people with itchy feet are zeroing down on these as an alternative way to travel while staying within their bubble, thus minimising the risk of infection. The trend is certainly on an upswing the world over. A record number of leisure vehicles, which include motorhomes and towable caravans, were sold in Europe in 2020, rising 12 per cent to around 2,35,000 units, according to the European Caravan Federation. The United States witnessed record sales this March while in Australia the number of registered leisure vehicles has reached 7,50,000. “We couldn’t achieve in 20 years what 2020 managed to do for us in terms of awareness and demand. We’ve been struggling for 20 years to bring the culture of caravans to India but people never appreciated it as these are more expensive than a hotel room,” says Capt Suresh Sharma, Team Leader Ops of the Chandigarh-based Green Dot Expeditions which started as an offshoot of his attempt to conserve nature. Other players in the market also agree that the trend is catching on. Motorhome Adventures, which started its caravan rental services in 1993 and officially registered in 1995, too has witnessed a change in demand. Vidushi Saini, senior business development manager of the Delhi-based outfit, says, “Initially people were exploring ways to travel for emergency or relocation in isolation but now Indians have picked up or at least become curious about experiencing the real concept of caravanning.” The company has six camper vans each differing in size, floor plan, capacity and luxury. Neha Soman, director of the Nagpur-based Wacation On Wheels Pvt Ltd reiterates this when she says that the company has been getting almost four times more queries as people seek out caravans for travelling safely. She believes, “The sanitised home on wheels will become the preferred mode of tourism in the future as the economy and society start opening up after a good percentage of people are vaccinated.” The company has two caravans currently and has access to six more owned by others. But what does caravanning or travelling in a camper van imply? Captain Sharma, who operates primarily in Ladakh, Himachal, Rajasthan and Kutch, says, “A caravan can be sustained for weeks to months to years with replenishment. It has its own kitchen, toilet, water tank, disposal and storage... In short, everything that you need in a house is there.” Others have expanded the concept further to include camping in different locations while travelling in a van. The concept, called overlanding, is a mix of van life and camping. Here, people drive a regular vehicle, which is custombuilt to carry an overhead tent and fitted with good tyres, ancillary lighting, storage for the battery as well as a tank. Harsh Sharma, co-founder, Camping Co, which started operation in 2018, says, “It’s like a vacation rental where we

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X The overland Taurus truck parked next to a water body in Rajasthan; Y family holidays can mean time to bond over games and more; Z night in Ladakh; [ barbecue on the banks of a river in Ladakh; \ on the riverbed in Ladakh; ] camping amid sand dunes with a camel for company and ^ breakfast on the banks of River Ravi



] Y

^ [



X X With Motorhome Adventures’ pre-packaged Enchanted Getaway to Mukhteshwar, one stays about 40 km away from the city and about seven-10 km away from small villages; Y and Z the waterfall and stream are just a 10-15 minutes walk away from the campsite. One can eat breakfast while dipping feet in the water at the secluded waterfall; [ the caravan is parked at one end and the table set up at another and \ the sunset at an isolated spot presents a breathtaking view

want a house to be at the best scenic location with certain amenities. It’s a home on wheels where people can move around.” The amenities are preloaded so logistics are taken care of. “The itinerary is customised for an individual. For a first-timer, everything is catered to. Others, who are more adventurous might want to do things on their own and can go on terrains which are slightly remote or difficult to drive on and we equip them with the right vehicles for the experience,” he adds. Camping Co has leased land in Meghalaya's Jainitia hills to make an overlanding site where people can park their vehicles and set out the tent. “It’s hand-picked so that it isn’t too commercial and doesn’t feel as if you are outside someone’s building. The place only has a toilet and a kitchen,” says Sharma whose company has 10 vehicles which operate in the Northeast region and are often booked three months in advance. For most companies, the idea was born out of personal experience. Captain Sharma, after having been a short service officer with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka for 18 months, undertook a trip with his wife when his daughter was six months old where they covered 12,000 km to South India and back. Soman, on the other hand,


tried to hire a caravan and found that it wasn’t practical or cost-effective since it was a rarity in India. “So, we decided to buy a caravan for ourselves and also get into the rental business to pay for the vehicles,” she says. Sanjay and Bina Saini, the couple behind Motorhome Adventures, were and still are hodophiles. “Since there was only so much one can do while traveling in a car, they wanted to have a home... on wheels. They launched the company for people who were interested in travelling without any boundaries of concrete,” says Saini. Camping Co, which started in 2018, had a vehicle for personal use initially. Since it wasn’t being used often, due to a 9 to 5 job, it was put up on Airbnb for rental. After four months, one person took the vehicle on a trip and wrote glowing reviews. The business picked up and there was no looking back. Interestingly, Motorhome Adventures, which operates throughout the country and even for sectors like Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, has catered to every segment. Saini says, “Though caravans seem like a luxury, that only the rich can afford, we have budget-friendly options. Curated itineraries where adventure lovers travel in groups cut down on the cost while providing a unique travel experience.

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Teenagers, families, friends who want to leave the concrete and city chaos behind to travel to locations deep into the woods favour it.” Harsh says that since it works best in remote locations, caravanning and overlanding are ideal for the Northeast and can be curated as special experiences here just like houseboats for the Kerala backwaters. “We thought younger people, mostly college crowd, would favour camping but we had a couple who celebrated their 25th anniversary with a picnic in a remote place and a person who proposed to his future wife. Most travellers are between 25-45 and the only duo above 60 was from Bhutan.” Captain Sharma’s experience with the demographics is not so much to do with age. He finds that, “Photographers love the experience because it offers an unmatched experience of the wilderness rather than conventional photo tours where they return to the hotel. Families prefer it for the bonding it offers. So do friends.” Green Dot Expeditions has also organised cuisine expeditions for women to experience the local food of an area. Soman zeroes on one basic point which lies at the root of the popularity when she says, “Senior citizens and ladies prefer it because there’s a toilet travelling along with them and they don’t have to

use unhygienic facilities in unknown restaurants or petrol pumps. Pets being allowed is appreciated by pet owners. Youngsters see it as an adventurous road trip with a chance to spend the night under the stars.” Harsh says that the reason why caravanning and overlanding make sense is that these are economical options. “Hiring a car costs about `4,000 per day. Depending upon the category of hotel, boarding and lodging can be an additional `9,000 to `10,000. The vehicle costs between `3,000 to `5,000 per day. With an expedition leader — who drives, cooks, sets up camp and is a guide — that is an additional `2,000 per day.” Motorhome Adventures offers several packages keeping its diverse clientele in mind. “For rental, we have three options. In a customised one, you choose your itinerary, the number of days, pick up and drop location. Here the only inclusions are fuel and amenities like utensils, cutlery, linen, LPG. For fixed itineraries, costs like staff’s travel allowance are included in the cost. Curated itineraries include everything,” says Saini who recommends curated travel for first-timers. The Wacation on Wheels caravans — which are available from Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Bhopal,

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— HARSH SHARMA, co-founder, Camping Co

_ ` ^


Camping Co offers overlanding holidays across Northeast. The pictures, clicked by the travellers, are from a variety of locations. X Laitkroh; Y Kyrdemkhla; Z, a Cherapunji; [, ], ` Kongthong; \ Sohra; ^ and _ Nongkhnum Island


Indore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad — cost approximately `2,500-3,000 per person per day.” While the gig by Captain Sharma is a little more expensive. The overland truck, which accommodates two to six people, costs `6,500 to `10,000 per person per day including food, travel and stay depending on the number of people and area. He says, “I drive the vehicle and take two helpers with me. I am selling an experience as I have vast experience in wildlife conservation. We don’t give disposables which harm the environment. So, there are cotton napkins rather than tissues. Nothing — cups, plates and more — is plastic. We don’t have a bonfire as wood is scarce and best used by local communities. If it’s cold, we light our barbeque. Or carry charcoal briquettes made from coconut shells.” However, it isn’t smooth sailing all the way. Captain Sharma says, “There are no manufacturers who understand caravan travel. On offer are vanity vans which are adequate for a few hours to overnight stay with external support.” Harsh says initially parking was an issue so the Guwahati-based Camping Co started partnering with locations where they can pitch the tent. Captain Sharma, on the other hand, has a well-established network where he knows exactly where to stay the night, buy his vegetables, get water or which people he can trust along the route. Saini says that their decade-old staff members are mindfully trained for every situation. “However, if a breakdown can’t be dealt with at the location, the caravan is taken back to the headquarters. In that case, we either provide the passenger complimentary travel for the time it takes for resolution or a different but similar caravan if the issue cannot be resolved,” she says. Soman says that wear and tear or accidents are taken care of by the company. Camping Co, since it operates on a self-driving mode also, offers support during an emergency. “Our tech platform has a built-in device which gives out a warning to drivers if they aren’t driving safely. We have a speed governor so that they don’t go above 80 km/h. We can remotely diagnose most issues with the vehicle which has a recovery gear, with an instruction manual. If you get stuck somewhere, the team is available on the digital platform to help people recover from these situations,” says Harsh. The operators are hopeful that in a post-pandemic world, the experience will become more popular. Saini says, “A caravan has a comfortable seating and sleeping space, a functional bathroom and a kitchen. It not only offers travel in isolation but also promotes healthy living and sanitary travel to destinations in the lap of nature without destroying the environment because nothing concrete comes up by destroying the jungle. Moreover, to ensure safety, the caravans are regularly sanitised and left in isolation at least a day before the trip commences.” The staff is tested before the trip, there are partitions between the staff and travellers as well as different AC ducts. Soman says, “We can promise you no exposure to anyone outside, parking at scenic locations, facility to cook on board or order food from nearby restaurants and, of course, a clean toilet traveling along with you all the time.” So, don’t you think it is time to pack your bags and keep them ready to hit the road?

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Raise a toastto

tea EXOTICA [39] JUNE 2021

‘Immunity booster’ must be one of the most frequently Googled words in the food lexicon since the pandemic stuck. SAIMI SATTAR explores the bouquet of a favourite beverage which promises to do just that


the combination of a big dash of turmeric, a sprinkling of cinnamon, a spoonful of black pepper, a whiff of tulsi and amla, a few cloves to your liking? Or would you prefer an infusion that rides high on cardamom, licorice, ginger, coriander, stevia leaves and rose petals? Herbal teas, which were long considered warriors in the battle against bad health, have found greater traction in the post-Covid, lockdown world. Of course, the demand is also powered by the fact that work from home entails more pick-me-ups and, so, rather than guzzling down endless cups of caffeine, these immunity boosters make perfect sense.



Sarda, Founder, VAHDAM India, gives credence to the assertion. “When the pandemic hit, boosting immunity became more critical than it had ever been in the past. The Ministry of AYUSH recommended turmeric, golden milk and kadha for building immunity. To cater to the need of the hour, we launched more immunity-boosting teas,” he says and adds, “The pandemic has led to a fundamental shift in consumers’ behaviour towards high quality, natural and organic wellness products.” VAHDAM, at the moment, has wellness and immunityboosting turmeric teas, elixirs and lattes. In addition to this, it offers green teas, Vedic Kadha,

Matcha and herbal teas like Amla Ginger, Giloy Neem, Moringa Tulsi and more. Sarda, the fourth generation of a family that had been retailing and exporting tea for around 90 years, launched the company in 2015 as an onlineonly premium tea brand. However, players who have been in the market longer and known for what tea traditionally stood for — at least in India — too decided to diversify their portfolio and expanded into a new vertical. Society Tea, which was founded in 1933 in Mumbai, introduced Cleanse — a Green Tea Detox Kahwa premix — a year back. Karan Shah, fourth-generation director, Society Tea says that the detoxifying and immunity-boosting tea has ingredients like ginger, ‘THE PANDEMIC HAS LED TO A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN CONSUMERS’ BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS HIGH QUALITY, NATURAL AND ORGANIC WELLNESS PRODUCTS’ — Bala Sarda, founder, VAHDAM India

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— Karan Shah, director, Society Tea

asafoetida, cardamom, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, green tea extract, turmeric powder amongst others. The brand’s turmeric range blends the spice with superfoods like ginger, ashwagandha, moringa, Reishi mushroom and an array of spices. The green teas have whole leaf in them which results in better infusion, taste and flavour. The Vedic Kadha is a herbal concoction of Ayurvedic herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, basil, amla, black pepper and more. Shah says, “Given the current situation, where people are working from home, there has been an increase in the demand and the consumption of tea in general.” The brand has seen a surge in the demand for the company’s range of immunityboosting products like Haldi Doodh as well. Some of the brands have been early starters on the immunity route. Amit Jain, co-founded The Indian Chai with his wife, Shradha in 2016 as the couple realised that the high-pressure modern lifestyle was giving rise to temporary and chronic lifestyle-related ailments. So, with the belief that we should be in control of our health and not be controlled by it, the brand combined its family heritage in tea (his father owned a tea retail-cum-

wholesale shop) with the Ayurvedic philosophy of ‘prevention over cure’. The Indian Chai was launched to tap into the goodness of a daily healthy cup of tea which, along with a wellmanaged lifestyle, could eliminate diseases. Shradha says, “We have always given a lot of importance to wellness teas since the beginning. Not only immunity, but we also have a varied range of wellness teas in our catalogue.” Each of these brings an array of benefits to the table. Fighting free radicals, cleansing the gut, promoting healthy digestion, offering resistance to cold and cough while calming the mind besides boosting immunity. With the pandemic making people want to up their immunity, it was no surprise, that the group hit the benchmark sales in July last year. Snigdha Manchanda — tea sommelier and founder of Tea Trunk — has a similar trend to report, “We are seeing a spike in the number of people drinking Matcha green tea. It is a form of powdered green tea which was not so popular in India until last year. However, as people are researching healthier alternatives they discover that Matcha is the healthiest among different types

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ideal choice because they can be consumed hot or of green tea. A lot of clinical research and studies cold at any time. We’ve also launched a new have shown that it has the highest concentration collection of iced teas that you can cold brew,” of nutrients which help boost immunity and says Manchanda. overall good health.” To make it easier for people’s taste buds to acquire the taste for it, Tea Trunk has some flavoured JUST BREW IT ‘WE HAVE ALWAYS offerings like Berry Matcha and before you GIVEN A LOT OF IMPORTANCE TO Mint Matcha. decide to sip WELLNESS TEAS Besides the Matcha Green into good health, you have to get SINCE THE Tea, which is rich in antioxidants, accustomed to the slightly BEGINNING. NOT ONLY IMMUNITY, BUT the company offers an antidifferent way to brew these. Sarda WE ALSO HAVE A inflammatory Turmeric green tea says, “The loose-leaf teas and VARIED RANGE OF WELLNESS TEAS IN and one with chamomile, which herbal teas are supposed to be OUR CATALOGUE’ is a natural relaxant. All three 'steeped' in hot water for three — Shradha Jain, are great for boosting to five minutes and sipped. They co-founder, The Indian Chai overall immunity. are not supposed to be 'boiled' Seeing the rising in water.” demand, the group Society’s Cleanse tea, on the recently launched Tea Trunk other hand, is a premix green Botanicals, which has 100 per tea and all you need to do is cent caffeine-free teas, also add hot water to it. known as tisanes under its The ones from Tea Trunk umbrella. “We realised that need to be brewed for two tea lovers are consuming to three minutes at 80 more cups of the beverage degrees C while the Indian while working from home Tea Company recommends but, at the same time, want to adding ½ teaspoon to a cup of reduce their caffeine intake. boiling water and simmering Hence, these herbal teas were an for 10 minutes.


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for regular tea, everyone has their preferences about what to add (or not) and the quantity that is ideal. Manchanda feels that her teas are best had with either honey or jaggery but without milk. Shradha does not recommend adding any sweeteners, especially refined sugar, to the teas to get maximum health benefits, though chamomile can be consumed with a touch of honey. VAHDAM recommends that its offerings should be had minus any additions.



you reach out for a cup as your go-to morning or evening tea? Or is there a set of drinking etiquette to be

observed? While the teas from VAHDAM and Society can be drunk anytime during the day, the ones from Tea Trunk ideally follow some norms. Manchanda says, “The Turmeric Green Tea can be consumed along with breakfast or lunch but never on an empty stomach. Matcha is high in caffeine so it should be consumed in moderation in the first half of the day. Chamomile is caffeine-free so it can be consumed any time of the day. It is especially beneficial before bedtime as it helps promote sound sleep and is a known cure for insomnia.” Shradha recommends that it is best to consume the teas from The Indian Chai before bedtime and on an empty stomach in the morning. So, go ahead, raise your cup of tea. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.

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I N N E R S PA C E S Offices shifting to homes came in vogue as a response to the lockdown last year. Since the trend is likely to continue and become somewhat permanent across several sectors, AYUSHI SHARMA spoke to experts to create an area where you are comfortable, focussed and organised





second wave of the pandemic has caused severe disruption. People have resumed working remotely and with so many remaining cooped up at home in these unprecedented times, creating a dedicated workspace is certainly the need of the hour. Adaptable spaces are a great solution to make ourselves equipped for the new normal. So as we spend more and more time at home, well-lit spaces, organised work desks and well-planned work nooks are of utmost importance as these can go a long way in helping us stay focussed while simultaneously bolstering our physical and mental well-being. We talk to some interior designers who suggest minimal changes in the house to make it appropriate for work from home.



using innovative ways to demarcate your work from home set up, you can adapt any area/room into a workspace. Natasha Aggarwal, founder, NACL (Natasha Aggarwal Creative Living), feels that moving things around is a great way to create a fresh new look for your home. Not

‘Just add a writing desk, accessorise it with small objects that would liven up space as well as your mood and you are all set’

— AJAY ARYA, founder, A Square Designs

only will this allow you to use your space better but it also helps to create a cosy nook for a home office. For instance, she says, “An unused corner can be transformed into a space-efficient home office. It can be spruced up with a floating desk, shelves and some bold artwork. Another is that you could use a pile of books to separate the work area from the rest of the living room. This not only creates a defined space for working but is also a good stress releasing DIY activity.” Ajay Arya, founder of A Square Designs, agrees with Natasha and says that by turning around the furniture placement at home, you can give the space a new look and also make room to work from home. “It can be a corner of your family room, lounge or even your bedroom. Just add a writing desk, accessorise it with small objects that would liven up space as well as your mood and you are all set,” shares he.

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‘Setting up the desk near a window not only lets in warm light, but also creates a well-ventilated area making it a comfortable workspace. In addition to natural lighting, it is important to pick illumination that does not overpower the space. When it comes to desk lamps, it is most advisable to use soft lights as they create a peaceful and mellow atmosphere, which helps release stress, enabling an effective and efficient work environment’




though artificial lights are essential, natural light adds an instant positive boost to the space and, subsequently, to productivity. Researchers found that people who worked in places with ample natural light were 15 per cent more creative. Natasha shares, “Setting up the desk near a window not only lets in warm light, but also creates a well-ventilated area making it a comfortable workspace. In addition to natural lighting, it is important to pick illumination that does not overpower the space. When it comes to desk lamps, it is most advisable to use soft lights as they create a peaceful and mellow atmosphere, which helps release stress, enabling an effective and efficient work environment.” Sharika Sharma, Business Lead, Mangrove Collective, too, emphasises on setting up the work

desk and chair in a distraction-free zone, preferably with access to a window to let in natural light and breeze as it enhances creativity, which can further help you soar through your work... and not just for those in traditionally creative fields. She says, “This well-appointed setup can serve not only as a studio but also becomes a study for quiet reading and introspection.”



best thing about working from home is most probably the level of comfort, the flexibility you have and, not to forget, the privilege of rolling out of bed and working in the pj’s. You can be sitting on the couch, on the kitchen table or on your bed. But this kind of comfort can come at the cost of lost productivity. Thus, Disha Bhavsar, principal designer and co-founder of

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Quirk Studio, shares, “To maintain a correct and healthy posture, we must ensure that the furniture we pick is optimised to be fully functional and ergonomic. It shouldn’t be a forceful adjunct that increases clutter; it must fit effortlessly into the layout of the space, adding more value and enhancing the comfort.” Ask her, ‘what should one look for when picking up ergonomic furniture for the home office?’ and she responds that the category of furniture to be picked depends on the kind of work that one does. “A suitable table with neat pockets or drawers for stationery and books would be preferable for someone with a desk job. The visual aesthetics of the furniture pieces can be chosen as per the colour scheme in the room to create a perfect appendage that enriches the space and the work from home lifestyle,” says Disha. When the surroundings give you work vibes, your attention is bound to increase along with your efficiency. To achieve that, Kshitij Mirania, Partner, Mirania Luxury Living (Steelcase East), suggests that having a particular space all to yourself will keep you away from the distractions

around you at home. All you have to do is choose a corner in your house with good natural light, if possible, and set it up with a desk, an ergonomic chair and put all your systems in place, keep your required materials like a laptop, stationery, a bottle of water and a lamp right by the side and the focus ‘To maintain a correct and healthy posture, we must ensure that the furniture we pick is optimised to be fully functional and ergonomic. It shouldn’t be a forceful adjunct that increases clutter; it must fit effortlessly into the layout of the space, adding more value and enhancing the comfort’

— DISHA BHAVSAR, principal designer and co-founder, Quirk Studio

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will flow in. “The right seating and posture are a must that all professionals must adapt to for longterm health and well-being. A dedicated workspace along with the right furniture will enable you to keep yourself oriented to your work,” he adds. For Sharika, too — posture, comfort, vision and movement — all play a critical role in facilitating a sound work environment. That is why she says, “It is absolutely essential to invest in a sturdy, comfortable chair for optimal comfort and correct posture. A combination of natural materials along with a functional design can be a tasteful and stylish statement which can turn even the most dreary workday into a relaxing one.” “Using compact shelving systems that can multitask as a work desk is a great way to make your furniture performs just as hard as you. You can complete your minimalist work desk with a slender but comfortable chair,” adds Natasha.



boost your health in ways you probably don’t even realise. And with the lockdown in place, there can never be a better time to embrace greenery at home. Most of our time these days is spent glued to some sort of

screen while tending to our fast-paced jobs. Indoor plants not just enhance the overall appearance of a space, but also increase creativity, reduce stress and eliminate air pollutants, making for a healthier and happier you. Kshitij tells us that the calming effects of plants have been proven to reduce work stress and anxiety. He says, “Green corners help create that ‘oooh’ moment which inspires people while bringing them closer to nature in a completely new way. Having indoor plants in your WFH setup can serve as a refreshing change from the mundane interiors of the house. Working in a green environment can help in increasing focus and also serves as a soothing sight for the laptop-sore eyes.” Disha, too, feels that incorporating indoor plants into workspaces is one of the most efficient means of augmenting one’s well-being and ‘Green corners help create that ‘oooh’ moment which inspires people while bringing them closer to nature in a completely new way. Having indoor plants in your WFH setup can serve as a refreshing change from the mundane interiors of the house. Working in a green environment can help in increasing focus and also serve as a soothing sight for the laptop-sore eyes’

— KSHITIJ MIRANIA, partner, Mirania Luxury Living (Steelcase East)

and art make for a statement addition, imparting a lively and dynamic character to the space. A greenery-inspired colour story can be curated in the home office, taking cues from nature’s palette,” she adds.


ADDING productivity as it brings elements of the outdoors indoors, thereby, establishing a deep-rooted connection with the earth. “Minimal-maintenance indoor plants like zeze, pothos, palms, aloe and syngoniums can be great for novices or people looking to ramp up their spaces without having to put in persistent efforts for upkeep. Sleek planters in clay, terracotta, ceramic and even mixed-metals are a substantial design addition to house the plants you introduce into the home office. Tabletops and shelving units can be adorned with sundry succulents and self-sustaining terrariums to infuse life,” she suggests. But why stop at living plants? “Greens can also be added to interiors in the form of material finishes. Botanical prints across upholstery, decor

artwork to your surroundings is a great way to personalise your space. Natasha recommends the use of motivational posters or any personal items that encourage you and induce creativity. She believes that it is a great way to create a productive and inspiring space. There shouldn’t be any need to conform to the notion of what a traditional home office setup should ‘look’ like. Sharika feels that a simple, sleek desk with sufficient storage to store office paraphernalia, cables, et al, can keep the space tidy and clutter-free. However, a little creativity never hurts anybody. “Artefacts and decorative objects can create a sense of play in a workspace. Adding a personal touch with photographs, paintings and other such standout elements can help set up an intimate corner of one’s own,” she adds. So what are you waiting for? Build your own WFH nook.



natural AN

initial trickle, sometime around April last year, gradually went on to become something closer to a flood. Emails and texts promoting skin and hair care products, that were organic, customised and free of parabens as well as sulphates, have been registering a sharp rise in the post-pandemic world. These products use ingredients which, besides being good for you, are also good for the environment. The rise in supply was powered by concern and desire among users to safeguard ecology as an upshot to a realisation of the consequences of ignoring nature. On the demand side as well, one increasingly saw

social media influencers, friends and family subscribing to a way of life that was more sustainable and responsible. The brands attest to the trend by the rise in sales that has been witnessed. Megha Asher, co-founder and coo of Juicy Chemistry — which offers skin, hair, body and personal care accessories as well as aromatherapy essential and carrier oils — says, “The brand began in August 2014. Last year, when the pandemic struck, demand dipped in the first quarter. Our supply chain also took a hit. However, from May onwards things began to look up and we experienced a 150

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The pandemic has forced us to look at the ingredients that go into our skin, hair and personal care products. It is time to subscribe to a way of life that is more sustainable, says SAIMI SATTAR

per cent jump in orders, which later grew to 350 per cent in June.” Not just the newer brands, the well-established ones too saw the sales rise. The Body Shop, founded by Dame Anita Roddick in 1976, with natureinspired, vegetarian and cruelty-free products, saw a surge in the demand. Antara Kundu, marketing head, The Body Shop Asia South says, “Daily essentials like hand washes, shower gels, soaps, shampoos and hand creams were in demand. Staying home also meant more time being spent on self-care which translated to our skin care category also showing strong growth. Our anti-bacterial skin care range of ‘Tea Tree’ products, especially the hand wash, has seen a significant increase in demand. About 75 per cent of our business earlier came from skin care, body care and hair care products which have gone up to 85 per cent.” Pooja Parkar, founder, Root Natural, an e-commerce aggregator which provides skin care solutions made with natural ingredients, says that the pandemic has led to increased demand as the ‘THE BRAND BEGAN IN AUGUST 2014. LAST YEAR, WHEN THE PANDEMIC STRUCK, DEMAND DIPPED IN THE FIRST QUARTER. OUR SUPPLY CHAIN ALSO TOOK A HIT. HOWEVER, FROM MAY ONWARDS THINGS BEGAN TO LOOK UP AND WE EXPERIENCED A 150 PER CENT JUMP IN ORDERS, WHICH LATER GREW TO 350 PER CENT IN JUNE’

— MEGHA ASHER, co-founder and coo, Juicy Chemistry

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— ANTARA KUNDU, marketing head, The Body Shop

awareness around natural and clean products has definitely grown. “People understand how conscious living is a way for a longer and healthier life. They turned towards natural home remedies for preventing the virus and building strong immunity. They understand well how outer health is the reflection of what is inside. So Covid has surely taught a lesson for the need to be stronger from within. The beauty market has seen considerable growth post-pandemic outbreak,” she says. Arshhya Chhabra co-founder and creative director, Alive & Well, feels that the switch is taking place because people realise the harmful effects on the planet as well as on the skin. “People are more aware and conscious today than ever before. They want to eat, use and wear products that are premium without harming the environment, which is the way to go after all this planet is what we leave behind for our future generations. So, every small act of consciousness goes a long way,” says Chhabra who has on offer a range of cold-pressed oils, serums including Vitamin C and retinol, a goldenriched oil that moisturises skin and provides a base for makeup application besides cleansers, moisturisers and facial tools including rollers and Gua sha stones. The use of natural products makes sense on a lot of counts. Parkar elaborates, “Manufacturing natural products reduces the waste which ends up in the ocean in a very large quantity. It also lessens the release of harmful chemicals into the canals

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and ocean as no harmful pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers are used in the production. This can make a real difference by reducing our environmental footprint and the impact of our lifestyle on the planet. Natural and organic products don’t harm animals as there is no need for testing products on them.” The brands have put into place some stringent measures to ensure that the products are natural and clean. Juicy Chemistry, for instance, doesn’t use any preservatives and the products are made in small batches. Says Asher, “We want our customers to experience the freshness and potency of organic and nutrient-rich ingredients. We don’t use any filler ingredients or any petrochemical derivatives or synthetic preparations.” Moreover, chemical products use microplastics in the scrubs that harm the environment and add to plastic pollution. So, the brand has natural exfoliants. Kundu points out that the ingredients that go into The Body Shop products are made to deliver results while causing minimal harm to the planet. “We aim to use sustainably sourced, natural ingredients and those of natural origin. Our synthetic ingredients are made to be environmentfriendly using technology developed by green chemistry. Additionally, we’ve been cruelty-free and we aim to reduce our environmental footprint while

our Community Trade partnerships help us get the best quality ingredients while causing minimum harm to natural ecosystems. We’ve always been 100 per cent vegetarian and are now halfway through to becoming 100 per cent vegan,” says Kundu. The philosophy is being carried forward by Root Natural which ensures that the brands on board this e-commerce site are aligned with the vision and mission of offering only safe and effective beauty products. Parkar says, “While onboarding any brand, we have a very stringent process and criteria that all products need to pass. Right from being transparent about each element that goes into it to how it is packaged, we scrutinise every step of the product from


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— POOJA PARKAR, founder, Root Natural, an e-commerce


sourcing ingredients to formulating the final product.” The site has classified 10 categories and 42 subcategories to focus on different skin concerns to make it easy for customers to choose products that suit them. However, the packaging is a red flag that many outside the beauty industry have spoken about to highlight the harm caused by the excessive use of non-biodegradable plastic. Mahima Gupta, founder, Bhu Botanicals, says, “All our products, except the bathroom items (like the face and body cleansers) and on-the-go items (like sunscreen, lip balm and more), come in recyclable glass packaging. We use high-grade recyclable plastic bottles. We aim to provide sustainable, consumerfriendly packaging without harming the environment.” Bhu Botanicals products list that these are 100 per cent vegetarian, free of parabens, sulphates, TEA, MEA, DEA and comedogenic ingredients. The ingredients are organic and some have ECOCERT natural certificates.

Juicy Chemistry also tries to be sustainable with its packaging. “It depends on what the product is and what the ingredients are. We also look at packaging, shelf-life and ease of usage. Certain ingredients require amber glass bottles to prevent oxidation. Most products are packaged in glass bottles and tubs. We use biodegradable paper for our organic deodorants, dry shampoos, and dusting powders. Our liquid shampoos are packaged in recyclable PET bottles,” says Asher. Moreover, the brand has a take-back programme to incentivise recycling. Kundu points out that since The Beauty Shop had environmental sustainability at the heart of business it addressed the plastic crisis by launching a Community Trade project with Plastics for Change, Bengaluru in 2019. “Through this, the virtues of Community Trade with a modern outlook at the plastic crisis is combined with using recycled plastic packaging. It uses existing plastic that is drowning the planet while

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providing livelihood to waste pickers. In 2019, we sourced 250 tonnes of recyclable plastic and by the end of 2021 we aim to purchase over 900 tonnes of Community Trade Recycled Plastic,” says Kundu. Since most of the brands are retailed not from individual websites but from e-commerce platforms, which are often guilty of using too much packaging, Parkar too has some measures in place. “Root Natural packaging is completely plastic-free and we encourage the brands to only use recyclable material in packaging. Minimal packaging, eliminating the cartons and sturdy product bottles/tubes or tubs are what we highly recommend and follow,” she says. And the future does seem to belong to those shunning the chemical route. Parkar says, “With increasing mindfulness, the clean skin care market is foreseen to grow two-fold. Today’s consumer is well informed and checking the ingredients label of a skin care product is not unusual. With increasing awareness, people tend to trust products enriched by nature's goodness which are safe on the skin. Instant results or getting shades lighter is not what today's consumer expects. Understanding one's skin issue and designing a skin care routine with safe, natural yet effective products are prioritised now. As a result, the natural products industry, especially in the skin care and beauty market, is predicted to grow annually by 7.83 per cent in India.” Kundu too agrees that the change is coming from the demand side. She says, “Today, awareness of beauty products and treatments is at an all-time high. The consumers are informed and cautious of their choices not only in terms of money but also the ingredients of a product, the ethics of the brand and so much more. Increased exposure to global trends, rising disposable incomes and changing lifestyles have rapidly evolved the beauty industry. The concept of 'Beauty with Responsibility' has reached more people.” Gupta too sees the demand going up by at least 30 per cent. It’s time you too subscribed to the natural way to beauty — for your own sake... and that of the environment.

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NUMBERGAME Sanjay Jumaani Numerologist


NUMBER 1 (Those born on the 1st, 10th, 19th and 28th of any month) It’s time to buckle up and undertake a task that requires attention. You, like your ruler and guiding force, the Sun, take time to actually start heating up. As the first half of the year is over, this month shall be the juncture of the change. You may reap the benefits of the seeds sown in the first half of 2021, hereon.

NUMBER 4 (Those born on the 4th, 13th, 22nd and 31st of any month) The month shall see you rise. Your ideas could be instrumental for your improving your organisation. Bask in the glory. Draw a line between investment and gambling. The latter won’t suit you. It could be a shaky month materially. Wait for a favourable period (July 22 to August 22) to park extra bucks safely.

NUMBER 7 (Those born on the 7th, 16th and 25th of any month) Fortune favours the brave as there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your perpetual empathy towards humanity will pay back. Knowing too much can be a curse. So utilise the chance to clear backlogs of the past. With an unending love for travel, you find it almost impossible to stay glued. Though, the need of the hour is self-restraint.

NUMBER 2 (Those born on the 2nd, 11th, 20th and 29th of any month) A decent period awaits you. The positives are rapid momentum and speed. Don’t let your fragility and emotions dominate rationality. You may have to spruce up practicality quotient. Keep your eyes open for sabotage. Note your purpose, state your intent and let your wisdom and intelligence win.

NUMBER 5 (Those born on the 5th, 14th and 23rd of any month) It’s your time, month and year if you stick to an important decision. At work, an elevation to the next level could be on the cards. You can’t resist peeping through the window of opportunities. If you’re looking for a shift in job or residence, the timing is right. However keep a strict tab on restlessness.

NUMBER 8 (Those born on the 8th, 17th and 26th of any month) Patience has been your best friend but don’t wait for long. Your hard work will most likely land you onto greater avenues. Remember to keep a hand’s distance from anything volatile. Be compassionate and benevolent. Put sincere efforts into restoring awkward relationships. A tinge of positivity is required.

NUMBER 3 (Those born on the 3rd, 12th, 21st and 30th of any month) Your planet, Jupiter, is known for knowledge and selflessness which makes you generous wherever required. It could be a lucrative month financially. Try to be patient and tolerant. Overpragmatism can make your intentions suspect. Since your number is in sync with this phase, you will bloom.

NUMBER 6 (Those born on the 6th, 15th and 24th of any month) This month is the dawn of a new era reminiscent of good times. It’ll help you redeem the lifestyle you yearn for. Try not to become lethargic. Be an opportunist, if you may. Don’t let your guard down to allow your emotional disposition interfere with your plans. All eyes are on you. Make sure you’re worth it.

NUMBER 9 (Those born on the 9th, 18th and 27th of any month) Mars, your ruling planet, renders you a fireball of energy. Channelise it with patience. Curb your temptations on important matters and don’t make hasty decisions involving relations, migration or job shifting. It’s likely to backfire. It’s not the time to settle scores.Your favourable time is around the corner.

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FITNESS Sitting continuously in one position can have long-term negative effects, which need to be countered


Bharat Thakur is a yoga guru and founder of Artistic Yoga

a temporary reprieve, we are grappling with the pandemic’s second wave. Many people have already been working from home but now others, once again, find themselves similarly confined. Both these groups will be less physically active during this time which has some health hazards that we need to be aware of. A staggering number of hours are spent being sedentary. If you’re working at a desk with documents or with computers, the time goes by without us realising it. Something similar happens if you’re totally absorbed in TV or Netflix dramas. There’s something hypnotic about a TV or computer screen that keeps us glued much longer than we intend to. If this is your current lifestyle, there are health risks. It can affect your eyesight, posture, blood circulation and digestion. Slouching or poor and prolonged posture can lead to joint stiffness, neck and back problems.

Recent research suggests that continuous, uninterrupted sitting without movement has more negative impact than we realised. This lack of movement affects how our bodies burn fat, metabolise sugar and respond to insulin. It’s shown to be linked to blood clots, fat deposits on the liver, higher cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems, weaker bones and memory issues. You can offset this, to some extent, by regular exercise during this time. As a body-mind-spirit discipline, yoga is a wonderful way to counteract many of these negative effects. Some postures can be easily adapted to be done at your desk. Long hours of sitting can compress a key disc in your lower back and also lead to disc problems in your neck. Some simple easy-to-do exercises that need to be done slowly, gently and mindfully can help. These stretch your spine, relax your neck, improve circulation and ease body stiffness. Each movement is done in sync with your breathing and your awareness needs to be on both. Your breathing is linked directly to your nervous system and this synchronised movement and holding the posture, will leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised. A few yoga stretches and twists can activate hormones that can alter our emotional and chemical make-up within minutes. Yoga not only makes us feel renewed but, as we practice it, the benefits and well-being help us to transform and change habits and patterns that are negative for us. After all, why do we let ourselves sit or be sedentary for hours on end when it is not good for us? Incorporating some yoga into our day makes us more aware of ourselves, our bodies and how we are reacting. We will find ourselves automatically stretching as we need to. However, it’s not enough to have a separate time for yoga or exercise regime and more is needed. The body is designed for movement. We need to be mindful of moving throughout the day. If we have to sit for long hours, we need to take frequent breaks. So, even if you sit for long periods, build in some movement. Get up to drink water or walk when talking on your mobile.


Sit comfortably at your desk, feet together or comfortable distance apart EXERCISE 1 o Interlock fingers at chest level o Breathe out as you stretch both arms forward o Inhale as you stretch both arms up o Hold for 10-25 seconds, breathing normally o Breath out as you go back to the start position o Repeat five times BENEFITS: o Improves flexibility, strength and blood circulation in the arms o Stretches shoulder muscles o Prevents ‘frozen shoulders’

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EXERCISE 2 o Interlock hands behind your head. o Support head and neck, breathe in as you stretch the elbows back and look up o Hold 10-25 seconds, breathing normally o Breathe out as you relax o Repeat five times BENEFITS: o Exercises the ball and socket joint so arm movement in all directions is possible o Helps keep shoulder muscles strong o Makes shoulders flexible o Counters ‘frozen shoulders’

EXERCISE 3 With palms on the thighs, feet a little apart o Slowly and gently lower your head forward o Slowly rotate the neck and head clockwise o Reverse and slowly rotate the neck and head anti-clockwise o Repeat slowly, five times in each direction

BENEFITS: o Loosens up and relaxes the head, neck and shoulders o Tones vital nerves o Improves blood flow to the brain o Reduces tension and calms the mind

EXERCISE 4 Sit comfortably at your desk. o Keep the back straight, one leg on the ground o Inhale, exhale as you draw the other knee towards the chest as shown o Hold for 10-25 seconds, breathing normally o Release and repeat with the other leg o Repeat the exercise five times BENEFITS: o Keeps blood circulating freely in the legs and arms o Keeps the feet, ankles and legs flexible

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GURUSPEAK Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Spiritual Guru

Life is a gift as it can become a fountain of joy and happiness not just for oneself but for others as well




a gentleman came to a doctor complaining that there was something severely wrong with him. Though he was hurting all over and was very sad, all his tests came out normal. The doctor said, “There is nothing wrong with you. Go to the circus and watch the clown there. He will make you laugh.” The gentleman said, “Doctor, I am that clown.” It is one thing to entertain others and be humorous, but quite another to be happy yourself.

Happiness does not come from talents or skills that you develop. Unless you realise who you are and the nature of consciousness through introspection, happiness does not become a reality. The spirit of self-inquiry, in the true sense, which leads to meditation is absolutely essential in this quest for happiness. The sixth-century Indian philosopher and thinker, Adi Shankaracharya, said that it is dispassion towards the ephemeral and connection with the eternal that brings true joy. In fact, he

EXOTICA [60] JUNE 2021

goes further and asks, “What joy does detachment not bring?” The word for solitude in Sanskrit is ekant, meaning ‘the end of loneliness’. Loneliness cannot end by changing company, even if it is more sympathetic and understanding. It can only end when you discover your real nature. Only spiritual solace can take you out of despair and misery. External pomp and show, wealth, admiration and adulation don’t help in dealing with inner discontent. You can bid goodbye to misery by connecting with an altogether different dimension that, I would say, is solidified silence, a bolt of bliss and a glimpse of eternity, which is in you as you. You simply have to tap into it. There is little use in having a machine that you cannot operate without a manual. Spiritual knowledge is like the manual for life. To drive a car, we have to learn how to operate the steering wheel, the clutch, the brake and so on. Similarly, to move towards the stability of the mind, we must know the basic principles about our life force energy. This is the whole science of pranayama. When our prana or life force keeps fluctuating, our mind also goes up and down through the roller coaster of emotions. One cannot handle the mind from the level of the mind. It is for this reason that although counseling or psychiatry seems to help in the beginning, it is not able to provide a complete cure in the longer term. Just forcing positive thoughts on oneself is not enough and more often than not leads to a relapse. Medication, like anti-depressants, also

seems to help only in the beginning and eventually makes the person dependent on it rather than freeing him/her from the tendency. This is where knowing the secret of breath can really transform lives. Breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya stabilise our life force and, consequently, the mind. The inner dimension unveiled by the practice of meditation deeply enriches us and its impact slowly spills over to all aspects of life. As prana rises in the body, one starts to feel a transformation as a direct experience and not as a forced mental exercise. One starts becoming happier, creative and more in command of one’s mind and emotions. Another thing that can be really helpful in emerging out of depression is developing an attitude of service. Thinking ‘what can I do for society’, or getting involved in some bigger cause shifts the whole focus of life and can take one out of the rut of ‘what about me?’. Societies — where values of service, sacrifice and community participation are ingrained — do not have these issues of depression and suicides. The Sikh community is a great example of this. Life is a combination of happiness and pain. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Having a broad perspective on life gives you the strength to move forward through painful times. Know that you are very much needed in this world. With all its infinite possibilities, this life is a gift as it can become a fountain of joy and happiness not just for oneself but for many others as well.


KARTIK AARYAN prefers to let the photo speak for itself. JACQUELINE FERNANDES looks back at days past and wants to go, “Back to this... stay safe everyone.”


SIDDHANT CHATURVEDI believes that, “I want to be able to cover you... hugs are for bros. ~ that short girl thing. #MyNotes.”

TARA SUTARIA recreates the past with, “Nani and I.”

The aura, beauty and nostalgia that black and white pictures can create are unmatched. Here is proof...

VIJAY DEVERAKONDA is “Just your Happy Boy in a tank top!”

SIDDHARTH MALHOTRA is “Looking forward but staying in the moment...”

ANANYA PANDAY decides it is time for the “#whiteTseries @rohanshrestha.”

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